Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu suffered a torn meniscus while on international duty with France on Tuesday. He has undergone surgery and now faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
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Mathieu Recovery Timeline Revealed
Thursday, March 31
The French veteran faces "between six and eight weeks" after completing a successful bout of surgery, according to Football Espana.
Should Mathieu miss the full eight weeks, his season can be considered over, with the UEFA Champions League final scheduled for May 28.
Mathieu's Absence Will Deprive Barcelona of Options
The 32-year-old joined the Catalans from Valencia in the summer of 2014 and settled in nicely as a versatile option, starting 12 matches in La Liga this season, per WhoScored.com. While he's a natural fit in the heart of the defence, he can also play out wide.
At left-back, he's the primary back-up behind Jordi Alba, who was a Clasico doubt himself after picking up a knock against Romania with Spain on Sunday. However, Sport's Ivan San Antonio claimed the Spaniard would be fit in time to face Real Madrid on Saturday.
But without Mathieu, depth behind Alba is limited, and the Blaugrana can ill afford to enter the final stretch of the season without the Frenchman. Barcelona are still active in three competitions―La Liga, the UEFA Champions League and the Copa del Rey―and need all the available players they can find in order to keep their top stars fresh.
Thomas Vermaelen has some previous experience of playing left-back, per the People (h/t Sky Sports), and he played the position during the first half of Belgium's 2-1 friendly loss against Portugal on Tuesday. He'll likely become Alba's primary back-up until Mathieu returns to action.